Courir de Mardi Gras, Mamou
In the Cajun country of Louisiana, the Mardi Gras celebration is a far cry from the version organized in New Orleans.
In Mamou, a small town of less than 4,000 people, about 180 miles northwest of New Orleans, in the heart of Cajun country, residents and visitors celebrated with music and drinks for four days and nights leading up to the grand finale: the Courir de Mardi Gras, a tradition that people inherited from the Acadian settlers and have kept alive.
Early Tuesday morning the men of the town appeared in colorful costumes with hoods and masks (the tradition requires them to hide their identities). The participants rode horses into the country to gather animals and other ingredients to cook the traditional gumbo for the rest of the community. Throughout the morning they ran into swamps chasing roosters and little pigs, drank beer and danced to the notes of cajun songs. Later in the afternoon they served it on the main street, where live bands played music late into the night.
At the same time, on the opposite end of the town’s main street, just a couple of miles away, the black community celebrated a nearly identical Mardi Gras, with horses, a stage with live bands playing music and a final parade.